Improvised Music as Socially Engaged Art: Poetics of Cardew and Rzewski

  • Radoš Mitrović University of Arts in Belgrade, Faculty of Music, Department of Musicology
Keywords: Cornelius Cardew, Frederic Rzewski, Avant-garde, the Scratch Orchestra, Improvised Music, the Parma Manifesto


In the light of the social turmoil in 1968, some composers have singled out advocating the greater involvement of musicians, i.e. music in the social movement. Cornelius Cardew and Frederic Rzewski, among others, believed that improvised music provides the opportunity for creating socially engaged art. However their concepts differed. While Cardew stayed with the idea of controlled improvisation, implemented through the Scratch Orchestra, Rzewski demanded completely free improvisation in his Parma Manifesto. In this paper I shall problematize the relationship of poetics behind the Scratch Orchestra and the Parma Manifesto in the light of the social situation of 1968, their crucial differences and their common idea of the democratization of avant-garde music.

Author Biography

Radoš Mitrović, University of Arts in Belgrade, Faculty of Music, Department of Musicology

Radoš Mitrović, Ph.D., Teaching associate of the Department of Musicology at the Faculty of Music, University of Arts in Belgrade. He published articles in New Sound, Zbornik Matice Srpske za scenske umetnosti i muziku, Art and Media, Muzika, and is an author of the e-book on Mauricio Kagel. He is a member of Serbian Musicological Society and his work includes music critiques and reviews for the Radio Belgrade 2.